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Come talk to me about hypnobirthing.

(26 Posts)
QueenofDreams Thu 15-Jul-10 14:39:07

I'm 17 weeks with DC2, and I'm considering birth options. I've not got anything definite in mind, but I am intrigued with hypnobirthing. I know what the basic principle is and I've heard the phrases 'breathing baby out' etc, but how is it actually done? Do you need to take classes to do it? Most importantly, those of you who tried it - did it work?

I'm not too concerned about the birth. DS was born just fine, but I'd like to explore other options this time round so would appreciate any information you can give smile

thumbwitch Thu 15-Jul-10 14:42:46

It's brilliant. It didn't stop the pain exactly for me (but then I was induced) but it did help in the earlier stages and it did remove any birth Fear I had; plus it taught me to relax and trust my bod to do what it had to. Which it did.

I also found the CD very useful for sending me to sleep in the last few weeks. I started at about 34 weeks - had 4 sessions initially, and then had one top up session at about 41 weeks when it became worrying that I would need an induction (which I did).

Well worth it. I had one-to-one sessions with a hypnobirthing instructor - she put me into a "trance" each time to help address any fears and try to teach me a pain reduction technique (which I admit I couldn't do when it came to it but that's my issue)

japhrimel Thu 15-Jul-10 15:26:47

I'm going to get the Natal Hypnotherapy CDs instead ("hypnobirthing" is a trademarked name - there are a few versions of hypnotherapy for birth).

WhatShallMyNameBe Thu 15-Jul-10 15:36:46

It didn't work for me as such, but that was due to circumstances (induction with people in the room stressing out about their own births, and various other things that sent me into a downward spiral of panic). However, I still firmly believe that it has a place, and before I lost the plot it really did help in the early stages.

I agree that the CDs are great for going to sleep to, and very relaxing.

I don't think you necessarily need to do classes, but it does help to have practical demonstrations/experience of the methods.

gaelicsheep Thu 15-Jul-10 15:49:08

My take on hypnobirthing is this. If you're going to have a difficult labour, then you're going to have a difficult labour as it will usually be for a physical reason. Hypnobirthing isn't going to change that. If you're going to have an easy labour then you don't need hypnobirthing anyway.

My first labour was horrendous and you'd have thought I'd have been a prime candidate for fear getting in the way with the second one. I was terrified before my second labour, absolutely terrified. Yet second time around things were physically very different (baby not OP for a start) and in the end I "breathed" my baby out just fine on my own without having to shell out tens or hundreds of pounds on hypnobirthing.

But then I'm a sceptic. Others clearly disagree.

addie81 Thu 15-Jul-10 16:31:46

One of my friends is massively into alternative therapies, and is basically a total hippy, and was determined to have no drugs in labour, but had a (male?!) hypnobirthing specialist with her instead, who had confidently assured her that he would get her through it. She is now famous in her circle of friends for almost physically throwing the hypnobirthing guru out of the room during labour whilst screaming FUCK YOU AND YOUR FUCKING HYNOBIRTHING RUBBISH. IT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK.

childrenchildreneverywhere Thu 15-Jul-10 17:15:56

hmmm addie81, goodness only knows who your friend had with her, but I can assure you it wouldn't have been a HypnoBirthing (Mongan method - trademarked) teacher - hypnotherapist maybe? and not a very good one at that, if he left your friend thinking he would "get her through it", he totally misunderstood the whole idea of hypnosis for birth and I can totally understand why it didn't work (having been on the receiving end of utterly useless "hypnosis for birth" sessions myself before I found proper trademarked HypnoBirthing!).

Gaelicsheep - actually no, far from it, most "bad births" are not due to a physical problem, they are due to various psychological effects such as subconscious anxieties, a belief birth is dangerous/hideous, memories, negative conditioning from society, unhelpful/unsupportive or nervous birth partners, medical intervention where not necessarily needed (e.g: induction for postdates) and environments not condusive to oxytocin release. Yes, true there are some real physical reasons of a "bad birth" but these are really (or should be) in the minority and if you really understand birth physiology and psychology you come to understand why it is so difficult for so many and why those who have good births aren't all "just lucky". HypnoBirthing is all about this, helping people to understand how and why it can be different and making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everybody.

However........HypnoBirthing is not magic, it is not something that "does or doesn't work on the day", it is about a whole new ethos, a new way of thinking, liberating old negative beliefs and replacing them with confidence and understanding. It is not something you must "do" on the day, certainly not for the mum. For most women their birth will be a calmer, more comfortable experience because of it. It does not promise pain free birth, it does not promise you will not need help to birth your baby, but it does help you feel more in control.

How the birth goes depends on what you put in in terms of practice (listening to CDs mostly), but also hugely relies on your birth partner (the best births are ones where the dad is entirely on board with it all - which is why it's really important for dads to go to classes), their understanding, their support and really importantly them enforcing your birth preferences on the day and guarding your environment. HypnoBirthing really helps dads to do this and as importantly as helping mums, it helps dads too.

There is not such thing as "a perfect HypnoBirth" and no such thing as "a failed HypnoBirth" either, the most perfect HypnoBirth I have ever had the honour to be at was a planned homebirth that ended up in hospital in an emergency C-Section. HypnoBirthing bought the parents an enormous sense of calm and control throughout their birth and that matters more than the stereotypical "no pain relief, no intervention, breathed the baby out in 8hrs start to finish with nothing more than a birth pool" (though I do see plenty of those too!).

So, as long as you don't see it as waving a magic wand to absolve you and you partner of lots of responsibility (and all pain), and rather a tremendous tool to help you to gain the calmest birth for you and your baby then I think you'd love it smile.

smilehomebirth Thu 15-Jul-10 17:20:34

For first-timers I'd definitely recommend doing a course if you have the resources, you'll get more out of it and it's good for educating you about normal birth also, and the ways natural birth can be sabotaged.

Second time round though, I think you can get a lot out of just reading the book and listening to the CD every day in the last 4 weeks or so. That's what I did for dd2, read the book over and over, practised the techniques and listened to the CD every day. People say that you have to be committed to it to get much out of it, so the more practise the better.

I used the Mongan book and CD, though my friend thought the Natal Hypnotherapy CD was better, and I've since read the Natal Hypnotherapy book (Maggie Howell) and would recommend that also. The main difference I saw was that the Mongan gives you definite breathing techniques to follow, whereas the Natal just recommends your normal breathing pattern as long as it's nice deep breaths.

The breathing your baby out thing is mainly just about allowing your body to push baby out automatically without all the concious, deliberate pushing that so many women are encouraged to do. The Mongan book points out that women have given birth naturally while in a coma - in theory you shouldn't need to conciously help the process. In practice I guess it's a little like doing a great big poo - sometimes you're constipated and need to put some concious effort in, but often all you need to do is relax and let the sphincter open and your body will automatically shove it all out.

I'm not sure I actually managed to hypnotise the pain away, but it made me deliberately and determinedly more relaxed and positive about it all (and I certainly had no need to do any concious pushing). 2 of my friends did exactly the same, and were very pleased with it also.

However... me and my 2 friends all had homebirths with our 2nds... this also on it's own may have had a huge affect on the ease, comfort and straightforwardness of our births (as well as the obvious it not being our first time!).

If you are low-risk and want to drastically reduce your chances of having ventouse, forceps or CS, reduce your need for pain-relief drugs, increase your chances of having a "satisfying" birth and reduce the risk of you or your baby getting an infection all without reducing the safety for you and your baby - you know what you need to do. grin

As others have said, don't go expecting miracles from the hypnobirthing, but it's a great thing to have in your arsenal and potentially could help you have a much more positive birth experience. Oh that sounds so hippy, I think I'll shut up there.

ReasonableDoubt Thu 15-Jul-10 17:24:15

I used natal hypnotherapy CDs when I was preparing for a VBAC. In the end I had to have a c-section, but I'm sure the CDs helped me relax. The breathing exercises and visualisations definitely helped me get into a 'zone' of inner calm (although obviously, I didn't get to test this out while 10cm dilated and in pain!).

Isanotherday Thu 15-Jul-10 20:51:51


My baby is a few months old. I used Maggie Howell's Natal Hypnotherapy CDs and had a brilliant birth. The midwifes were amazed how calm I was and I never raised my voice. It did hurt but I could breath through it and was manageable.

I would describe myself as an open minded cynic! I bought the CDs whilst I was ordering my birthing ball and tens machine. They were quite cheap and I just added them to my order without giving it too much thought.

I had 2 'effective birth prep' which I listened to from about 34 weeks about 3-4 times a week (used it to fall asleep to). and 'Birth music' which is the backing track which you use to get in the 'zone' when labour begins.

I only listened to 3 tracks of the birth music CD before leaving for hospital. I went in cause contractions every 3 minutes but I rated the pain as 4 or 5 out of 10. When I arrived I had my baby less than 2 hours later.

I had an extremely calm waterbirth and the midwifes asked if I'd used 'visualisations'. I said no cause I hadn't actively been imagining myself on a desert island etc.

When I got home I couldn't belive what an amazing birth I'd had so I got out the booklet which came with the CDs (which I'd never got round to reading), and it described my labour and said the CD uses 'guided visualisations'!!

My birth plan included everything up to an epidural as an option and I said I'd like to try the pool in the early stages so wasn't set on a 'natural birth' at all.

I had such a (relatively)great birth I'll follow the same formula next time. My 'formula' was:-

1. Know what happens in birth (NCT) and that adrenaline and panicing blocks labour hormones.

2. Sit on birthball or lean over it every night for last 5 weeks, put pillow under knees and blanket over ball to keep it comfy. I couldn't get comfy in the sofa.

3. Drink a couple cups of raspberry leaf tea each day for last couple of weeks- no idea if does anything!

4. Have acupunture to prepare body for labour (I had 3 sessions in last 3 weeks). Was going to book a massage to keep me occupied on mat leave but this was the same price and thought I'd give it a go!

5. Use a tens machine- I used mine for the couple of hours I was in labour before leaving home and during the journey. Really helpful. Also helped with timing contractions (partner pressed 'contraction master' app on Iphone when I pressed tens button!)

6. Try diff positions- I stayed on hands and knees

7. Consider waterbirth- i loved it (and didn't look into it in any detail before....theme here)

8. Buy Natal Hypnotherpay CDs (£24 for both I got mine from website called Birth Ease along with ball, tea, and tens)

Hope this helps and good luck

Isanotherday Thu 15-Jul-10 20:56:22

I also only listened to positve birth stories and mentally stored snippets people said such as:-

I'd do it all again tomorrow
I was on my hands and knees the whole time
My daughter stayed standing up
It's like period pains then really bad period pains
If you've had bad periods you'll be fine
By my third I'd got the hang of the breathing and felt in control etc

I chose to ignore anything negative.

DancingLady Thu 15-Jul-10 22:35:23

I'm due tomorrow and have been listening to the Natal Hypnotherapy birth preparation CD since about 30 weeks, and daily since wk 38.

I've also been avoiding negative birth stories and actually made a list of all the people I know who had manageable, 'easy' births, so I know it's not just hearsay... Hoping for a water birth with just G&A, but not ruled anything out 100%. The CD has made me a lot more relaxed and while I stay awake when listening to it I do go really floppy and snoozy and emerge feeling like I've had a nap...


gaelicsheep Thu 15-Jul-10 23:29:05

childrenchildreneverywhere - no, I don't buy it - not one bit. My recent labour I would describe as extremely manageable with labour pains like very bad period pains, until the very end when I was about to push when I had 3 very strong and very painful contractions. By contrast the contractions of my first labour were strong from the very start and by the 5 cm stage they were brutal and lasted like that until the 3 1/2 hour pushing stage.

Now if someone comes on here and says they had an OP baby, early breaking of waters with brutally strong contractions and came out of it the other end untraumatised having hypnotised themselves into a pain free trance - then I might believe there's something in it. But there is nothing at all to say the women who believe it helps wouldn't have had an easy time of it anyway. The same goes for that other much pedalled myth, the active birth.

As I said, if anyone was going to panic themselves into having a horrendous labour it was me this time around. You have no idea just how scared I was after my first experience. If I'd used hypnobirthing for my second labour I'd have undoubtably put the difference down to that. In reality the difference was in the position of the baby and the hugely different strength of the contractions. You can breathe your way through labour contractions - if you are lucky and you feel them as strong period pains with no complicating factors. Not everyone will be so lucky unfortunately.

childrenchildreneverywhere Fri 16-Jul-10 08:40:54

I think you are misunderstanding. HypnoBirthing does not = "pain free birth" - nobody has ever said that (least of all Marie Mongan), that is not the aim at all.

Also, you do not need HypnoBirthing to have an easy, calm, comfortable birth, actually if you did take some time to read about it properly you would note that within the first couple of chapters of the book or the first hour of the course that she believes that most women have the innate ability to birth their babies easily and naturallly without pain relief. Many, many, many woman do this every single day having never heard of HypnoBirthing!

There are many more subtle effect on birth outcome that don't involve fear/anxiety, as I've mentioned above they include: birth partner's actions and beliefs, midwife's experience and nature, lighting in the room, temperature in the room, sounds in the room, smells in the room, amount of people in the room, amount of VEs, other intervention is not as simply cut and dried as you are making it to be.

Hypnosis for birth has been clinically proven (yes RCTs) time and again to improve birth outcomes and reduce need for anaegelsia, are you disputing science? I am at a loss as to how you can call it "a myth" when so much (decent) science agrees with it? all I can conclude is that you have fallen for the common myths that perpetuate in society concerning HypnoBirthing without studying it further with an open mind and mistaken your own limited anecdotal experiences as "evidence". For anyone interested I'm happy to post the references/abstracts for these trials - there are also several more underway at the moment.

I hear what you are saying, you had two very different experiences, personally I have had 4 very different experiences, been at lots of HypnoBirths (and not HypnoBirths) as a doula over the past 3yrs and taught it to 700 couples in the last 5yrs (some posterior, some anterior, some short, some long etc....etc..) and I know it works and so do hundreds of thousands of women around the world, all of those women were not simply "lucky".

pinkgrapefruitjuice Fri 16-Jul-10 09:06:39

Queen of Dreams - if I were you I would get the CDs and a book and try them out. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, at the very least you get an opportunity to relax for 45 mins a day.

I got Maggie Howell (Natal Hypnotherapy)Preparation for Homebirth CD last time. It definately helped me stay calm in the lead up to the birth. During the birth (I was induced, had 16 hr labour and ended in emergency CS) it wasnt pain free by any stretch but I am sure it helped me stay calm and make choices and deal with the events as the birth progressed.

Im now 4 days overdue with no.2 and have been using the CD for past month 3 or 4 times a week. As Im facing an Elcs if this baby doesnt arrive soon I saw a hypnotherapist this week to do some additional preparation for operation, which is helping me to stay calm about the prospect. Who knows how and when this baby will arrive but I do feel that Ive done everything I can to have a good birth, the rest is up to fate..

QueenofDreams Fri 16-Jul-10 14:02:13

thanks for the info ladies.

I am hoping to have a homebirth this time (although I had a perfectly good hospital birth with DS).
My experience in labour with DS was that I did 'zone out' and the whole thing was very calm, everyone commented on that. I used deep breathing and G&A and got through it fine (although not pain free - I don't think there is such a thing as a pain free labour)
Only had tearing because DS had meconium in his waters and they wanted me to push him out fast.
It sounds interesting, but I'm so broke, I honestly don't know if I can afford the cd's.

DancingLady Fri 16-Jul-10 17:37:45

I just got one CD (on Amazon I think... but try eBay too) and a book. Think the total cost was £20. I'd have liked to do classes too but couldn't justify spending £200+.

pinkgrapefruitjuice Fri 16-Jul-10 19:31:21

Yeah my cd was around £20 I think, look on NCT website.

gaelicsheep Fri 16-Jul-10 22:03:43

QueenofDreams - I hope it goes well for you. Of course there's no harm at all in giving hypnobirthing a go, but please don't worry if you can't afford the CD. It sounds like you coped with your first labour just fine and there's nothing to say you won't again. My own experience might be limited, but as someone who suffered PTSD for 3 years after their first labour I think my trouble-free second delivery is a pretty good indicator that you don't need hypnobirthing to have a good experience. Just relax and trust in your body.

Isanotherday Sat 17-Jul-10 14:00:43


I got all my bits and pieces for Christmas last year- wasn't sure what to get as thought clothes/make up not a priority with a baby imminent!

Maybe you could just get the birth prep CD for now:

and the birth music later if you can afford it- prob less necessary really:

I would offer mine but want to use it next time. That said maybe you could get on 2nd hand, maybe put notice on......netmums nearly new board!! or freecycle.

Fizzywinelover Sun 18-Jul-10 11:07:16

I did natal hypnotherapy and it served to calm me down before the birth and to give me a good night's sleep.

Due to physical reasons (an old pelvis injury) my hoped-for calm natural birth went out the window and things got very difficult indeed. HOWEVER, I credit 100% the cds with keeping me very calm through it all. i felt calm., I trusted the medical staff, and because I was so calm, my heartbeat and bp and the baby's as well all stayed down, so we avoided an emergency c-section. We BOTh came out of things quite okay, and relaxed. I think if it were not for natal hypnotherapy I would have panicked. The medical staff kept commenting how relaxed I was, and how that helped the baby keep relaxed also, so for me it was a good thing. Also... despite a difficult labour, I am quite emotionally fine about it all. I credit the natal hypno cds with that too.

So, although I did not have the birth I hoped for, the cds definitely worked for me.

NoseyNooNoo Wed 28-Jul-10 12:07:09

I should confess an interest here since I am a HypnoBirthing Practioner.

HypnoBirthing is a complete birth education programme that teaches simple but specific self hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques for a better birth experience. HypnoBirthing allows a mother to experience a calm and relaxed birth, free of the fear and tension that can prevent her body functioning as well as it can. The mother remains relaxed but very much in control of the process of birthing her baby.

Our bodies are designed to give birth. When our bodies function normally, physical actions don't hurt our muscles; they are within the normal function of bodies. There is no reason that our birthing muscles should be any different - is there?

No Practioner would guarantee you a pain-free birth but an easier, calmer birth is realistic. Yes, there are special cirumstances that would lead to intervention but being relaxed can avoid this in the first place.

What I have observed is that HypnoBirhting mums generally felt that they were in control of the process and have no regrets about what happened during their birth, even if they had a C-Section in the end.

I believe that classes are the best option since thay will increase the probability that you will practice the exercises between classes and improve the 'buy-in' from your birth companion.

The book and CDs are less effective on their own but if that's all you are comfortable with then I still feel they would help. If you think you might opt for classes at a later date don't buy the book/CD beforehand because your Practioner will give them to you free as part of the course fee.


donnakebabnew Thu 09-Jun-11 22:30:31

I had a great birthing experience with the use of a TENS machine that I hired from it was fantastic with my long labour and really helped me through to the end.

Would highly recommend this company and the use of a TENS machine.

RuByMaMa Fri 10-Jun-11 13:46:55

I used hypnobirthing when I was pregnant with DD. Absolutely loved the whole experience - not just when I was delivering, but right through pregnancy as it helped me stay calm and relaxed. Had a fantastic birthing experience and would thoroughly recommend you try and at least get a look at the book and a listen of the cd (maybe your local library will stock it, or can order it for you?).

Good luck!

Firkytoodle Fri 10-Jun-11 14:40:24

Hypnobirthed both DCs, both back to back, both long labours.

I lost control and focus when I entered hospital with DD and the pain increased immensely in the last few hours of labour. With DS I managed to breathe him out at home in a very calm and relaxed atmosphere and never lost focus. It wasn't exactly painfree, but it was more like squeezing and pressure than actual agonising pain. I just abandoned myself to it and let my body get on with it. I'd go through his birth again right now, happily, as the post birth high was amazing and went on for weeks.

Can definitely recommend a TENs machine-I had mine on for 22 hours and then 19 hours with DCs and I think they really made a difference.

Also books like Birth reborn by Odent and Ina May Gaskins books are very useful for informing you about the actual physical process of birth.

I had things to repeat to myself when I felt myself getting frightened e.g 'my body knows what to do', 'this is one contraction I don't have to repeat'. I also used visualisation (contraction as a wave washing over me) and breathing techniques to help maintain control over my fear.

I think I got my hypnobirthing books from the library, didnt actually go on a course.

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